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Purposeful Pain


Blog title card; topic is how to handle painful situations
Purposeful Pain

The day was the Sabbath, and from the perspective of the disciples, there was only one reason for the blindness of the man who sat begging by the road: sin. Certainly the disciples had access to the book of Job, but even if they did not, they should have known this prominent lesson from the Old Testament: suffering and pain are not always immediate or necessary results of sin. If the disciples had heard the story of Job, it failed to affect their thinking, for they asked Jesus, “Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?”


When the Scriptures contradict a prevailing cultural philosophy, we should always follow the Scriptures. The disciples could never fully understand why the man was blind. However, if they had allowed the Law and the Prophets to transform their minds instead of culture, they also would not have limited that blindness to only two causes. Scripture, not culture, must govern the reasoning of the believer.


Jesus, of course, was there when Job experienced his suffering. He was there when Job heard that his children were dead, when his wife demanded he abandon his faith in Jehovah, and when his friends forsook silence and embraced folly. And it was He who asked Job, “Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth?”


Jesus was also present when the parents of the blind man looked with dismay and heartbreak at the eyes of their newborn son, anticipating how painful and difficult his life would be. Though they did not know this was all part of The Plan, He did. Because it was also Jesus who said to Moses thousands of years earlier, “Who hath made man's mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the Lord” (Exodus 4:11)?


Though John 21:23 indicates that Jesus healed many before and after this man, very few people have a story arc like his. How many others have a similar story? For those who have come to know Christ in the twenty centuries since He departed, the stories may be wildly different, but they all end the same way: we could not find Him; He found us.


Jesus adjusted the disciples’ mindset. The man wasn’t born blind because of sin. That’s worldly reasoning. No, he was born blind so the power and glory of God could be manifested. We don’t know if the blind man been praying for a miracle, or if he had he heard of Jesus and His miracles in the land. We simply find him doing the only thing he could do: begging. For the disciples who had seen Jesus heal by touch, some must have been surprised to see Jesus spit into the dirt and make clay, perhaps failing to realize that their Teacher was the same Person who formed their first father from that same clay. He who anointed the eyes of the blind man, and crafted their first parents at the dawn of the world, was the Savior He had also promised to them.


Scripture does not state how or when the man learned Jesus’ name, but he did. Jesus sent him to wash the clay from his eyes, and when the man came back, the Healer and the disciples had left. We do not know the man’s immediate reaction to being healed, and the man had nothing but a name to attach to the miracle. Yet, blessed are those who have not seen and still believed (John 20:29). And this man believed.


We do not know the man’s destination after he was healed, but he likely chose what was most natural: he went home. He had no more need to beg, and he may have wanted to tell his friends and family about the greatest event in his life…so far. His more skeptical acquaintances were not convinced he had actually been healed, but he confirmed that he was the man. Why they brought him to the Pharisees is unclear. Perhaps they were compelled not because of the miracle, but because of Who the man said was responsible for it. The Pharisees did not like to share glory or honor.


The Pharisees asked the man how he was healed. They asked his opinion of the man who healed him. The man’s answer speaks for all who, throughout the last twenty centuries, recognize that Christ has accepted us: “One thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see.” Perhaps the question that weighed most upon his heart was the one he could not answer: “Where is He?”


The man’s parents were intimidated by the consequences of declaring Jesus as Messiah, though they had convincing proof before them. At some point, the man came to a decision. On one side, he had his parents, the faith in which he had been raised, and the only world he knew. On the other hand was a man named Jesus he had only known for a few hours, but who had turned his world upside down. The man had previously admitted Jesus was a prophet, but that was not enough. With the limited first-hand experience he had with the Healer, he put his hand to the plow and did not look back.


In only four verses, the healed man delivered perhaps the most powerful message that synagogue had ever heard, ending with the watershed declaration, “If this man were not of God, he could do nothing.” That was certainly enough, thank you very much, for the Pharisees. They expelled him from everything he had known.


Verse 35 reveals the humanity of Jesus: “when He heard” He “found him.” Clearly some time had passed; Jesus was not waiting outside the synagogue when the man was expelled. One might expect the former blind man to have doubts and ask, “What do I do now?” Many of us have also experienced suffering for doing right and proclaiming truth.


This is one of those moments when I wish I could have seen the person’s face. Jesus met the man where he was, and introduced Himself as the Son of God. The healed man now had no questions or doubts, only full assurance. This is reminiscent of the arrival of the Magi in Bethlehem: “And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him” (Matthew 2:11).


No other miracle of Jesus follows a character so closely. Have any gained more and lost more? The healed man lost his world to gain Christ. He could say with Paul, “Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ” (Philippians 3:8).


The Biblical account does not record our friend’s actions after verse 38. I hope that the followers of Jesus became his new family as Jesus became his new focus of worship. Perhaps he played a role in the early church and was among those scattered after the death of Stephen. Like so many in the history of the church and even today, he lost much because of his devotion and worship of Christ. But like our friend, how we begin need not be how we end. Let us not look upon suffering as meaningless but as an opportunity for God to be glorified. After all, the greatest suffering of the Son brought about the greatest glory to the Father, and the greatest good the sons of Adam have ever known. His pain bought our peace. His suffering brought our salvation. And be of good cheer, for Jesus is present to meet our immediate needs, and will come again one day to take us Home. Maranatha! This is the story we must share.

 

The above article was written by Ben Reed. He is member of NorthStone Baptist Church in Pensacola, FL. To offer him your feedback, comment below or email us at strengthforlife461@gmail.com.


Every Tuesday, SFL publishes relevant Bible-based content. Check back next Tuesday to read the next SFL article.

 

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